Posted at 9 a.m., Feb. 19, 2015

President outlines progress on personal goals

Laramie County Community College’s president released his midyear update on his own personal goals for board of trustees’ review and discussion at its Feb. 18 meeting.

Improving internal communication and messaging was first on Dr. Joe Schaffer’s list. He noted his campus video updates were just one of the ways he has tried to improve internal communication.

“I have tried to provide brief, yet targeted communication on a variety of bigger issues pertaining to the college to help offer a ‘bigger picture’ of the things that are happening,” the president said in his report.

Based on recommendations from the Staff Senate leadership, he has also been holding “Brown Bag” meetings with faculty and staff around campus that provide opportunities for interaction between him and the campus. He wants to ensure all departments and schools are meeting on a recurring basis.

Dr. José Fierro, vice president of academic affairs, has created an academic affairs updates website; the associate vice president of the Albany County Campus, Dr. James Malm, has established weekly briefings; and human services executive director Peggie Kresl-Hotz has worked with colleagues and established training, resources, and request and response processes.

Human resources

Improving human resource functions and responsiveness was second on Schaffer’s list.

“Although I may still hear the occasional rumbling regarding the operations of human resources, I am starting to see this more as an echo from the past or a traditional opportunity for people to express frustration they are feeling regarding our changes in this area and not the functionality or responsiveness of human resources,” Schaffer noted.

Training materials and opportunities provided by Kresl-Hotz’s staff such as new employee orientation, screening committee training, hiring manager training, job description development, recruitment processes and human resources information requests are “top-notch,” Schaffer said.

In regard to responsiveness, Schaffer said the human resources department put structures in place that allow for direct contact with the person or the resource to help the requestor. He also said the department is committed to responding to requests with a specific timeline and has incorporated evaluation processes in their various functions to capture “customer satisfaction” and suggestions for improvement.

Redesigning college programs

Schaffer’s third goal was to reinvent the college’s program offerings to be designed for student success. Crystal Stratton, communications instruction; Health and Sciences Dean Terry Harper; Fierro; Kari Brown-Herbst and Melissa McAllister, both from the center for teaching and learning, were all commended by the president for their involvement in the process of curriculum evolution to establish programs with a focused, outcomes-based general education core, clearly designed and published course sequence, all build on a foundation of a strong curriculum.

Continuing to advance the “Building Forward” facilities plan was fourth on the president’s list of goals. Although challenges have risen with the student/university center building, the president said the Flex Tech building project was “moving ahead very smoothly” with the budget and established timeline on target. Both buildings are expected to be ready for the fall 2016 semester.

A steering committee has been established for the fine and preforming arts building to identify programming goals, approaches and needs. Using this information, the committee will create a prospectus for the project. Schaffer said they will use that prospectus to hire an architect to help complete Level I plans for the building.

Wayfinding project

The final element of the new gateways will be installed this spring. The delay was affected by the wayfinding project because of the desire to match the new signage on campus.

“I know this has not moved as quickly as some of you may like, but we are committed to doing this right and still meeting your expectations for seeing new signs on campus this spring and summer,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer listed developing mechanisms to better implement, manage and monitor the strategic plan as his fifth goal. One of the major accomplishments has been the launch of the LCCC strategic plan website, which is the mechanism for communicating the plan, reporting on progress and celebrating successes, he said.

Another element in the works is a project management process for the college. Schaffer said having an institutional process for implementing and managing major projects will improve the ability to keep the campus informed about changes in progress. It will also focus the effort on continued progress and completion of the most important initiatives.

Student learning assessment

The president said significant progress is being made on student learning assessment, which was his sixth goal.

“We have now completed multiple semesters of administering and collecting student learning data from common course assessments that assess the level of proficiency students have in demonstrating the college’s institutional outcomes,” the president said. “In addition, we are making great progress in establishing a systematic approach to assessing student learning at the program and course levels.”

Associate vice president of institutional effectiveness, Dr. Kim Bender, led the college in establishing an online system for the centralization of assessment plans. The system, called Aquila, will help improve programs and instructional effectiveness.

Schaffer said a major overhaul to the college’s academic program review process has been launched. This is in regard to his seventh goal, implementing methods for academic and co-curricular program review.

“We believe with its online interface in the Aquila system, criteria aligned with our accreditation standards, and a focus on continuous improvement, co-curricular program review is on the right track,” Schaffer said.

Policy, procedures

His eighth and final goal included continuing to improve and add needed policy and procedures. Progress is being made in establishing new policies and procedures that are missing, in transitioning older ones and in updating them, he said.

“As I have mentioned in the past, I am very proud of the college’s online policy and procedure manual and how it continues to develop,” the president said.

He admitted to having more work to do in completing the human resources policy and procedure with updates to the compensation and performance management policies and procedures as well as ones pertaining to curriculum and program development and approval.
“Overall, though, we continue to make strong progress in framing our institutional processes through documented policy and procedure,” the president concluded.

Trustee Carol Merrell proposed a timeline for Schaffer’s performance appraisal (evaluation) during the Feb. 18 board of trustees’ meeting. By Feb. 25, Merrell suggested three-five questions for each of Schaffer’s eight goals should be submitted. Once those questions have been compiled, they will be sent out on March 4 for review. On April 10 the evaluation will be conducted, and Merrell said she hoped to have the results by April 20. The board would hold an executive session during the May 6 meeting. And by May 20 Merrell recommended a contract action to approve the evaluation.